Students And Professors Connect Beyond The Classroom

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Chicago Booth has an unmatched faculty. From Nick Epley, whose book "Mindwise: How We Understand What Others Think, Believe, Feel and Want" just hit shelves, to Raghuram Rajan, who is currently on leave from Booth to act as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, it is not uncommon to find students crowding lecture halls to get a chance to learn from the best. There is no question that faculty bring amazing insights and practical experience to the classroom at Chicago Booth. What you might not know, however, is how professors are accessible outside of the classroom.

The Evening MBA and Weekend MBA Programs Office started a program called Faculty Connect in the Autumn 2012 Quarter. The idea sprung from graduating student comments that they would like to have more facilitated opportunities to interact with faculty outside of the traditional classroom setting. Thus, the Faculty Connect Program was born, with the intention of creating an easy way for students to network and mingle with faculty after class in an informal way.

Evening student Felicia Rauls says "I've thoroughly enjoyed theFaculty Connect events. Chicago Booth is known for its outstanding list of top educators and it's great that the University provides a forum for students to connect with professors in a fun, relaxed social setting." Evening student Meredith Baskies agrees, saying "it's fun to talk to professors at the intersection of their personal, professional, and academic life; they shed a really powerful - and often humorous - light on why they are passionate about their area of expertise and what motivated them to explore it at the highest level."

How does Faculty Connect work?

Each quarter, professors are given the option of hosting an after-class social, complete with appetizers and beverages. The events take place in the Midway Club or a lounge adjacent to the classroom. Some professors get creative and host whiskey tastings, large-scale Faculty Connect events with multiple professors, or weekly informal lunches with just a few students. Each event has one thing in common: lots of stimulating discussion and networking between faculty and students.

Nick Epley appreciates the time for conversation with students at Faculty Connect events. He says, "As a professor, there's an inherent barrier between you and the students in class, without much time available for breaking down that barrier because you're too busy trying to cover class material. ;The Faculty Connect event was the best opportunity I had to get to know some of my students better, and also for them to get to know me as more than just a professor."

Kerem Cosar, Assistant Professor of Economics, also sees value in stepping out of the classroom. "[Faculty Connect] allows faculty members to get to know our students better: their backgrounds, experiences, goals and ideas, [while also facilitating] an intellectual conversation beyond the more focused material in the classroom. I truly enjoy these events."

Since its inception in Autumn 2012 Quarter, over 80 Chicago Booth professors have participated in more than 100 Faculty Connect events. The goal is to continue to grow the program and offer faculty fireside chats alongside the traditional Faculty Connect events. One thing is for certain; Chicago Booth students will continue to have a unique opportunity to learn from their professors inside the classroom, while getting to know them on a more personal level outside the classroom!